Vette goes close at Manu Bay

RUNNER-UP: Gisborne surfer Saffi Vette competes in the Rip Curl Pro at Manu Bay, Raglan, where she finished second in the open women’s contest. Cory/NZ Surfing Magazine picture

A FALL midway through the open women’s final cost Gisborne surfer Saffi Vette her chance of victory in the Rip Curl Pro at Manu Bay, Raglan, on Sunday.

Vette, 17, was pushing for the lead with her progressive approach when she fell off her board.

Her performance was still good enough for second place, less than half a point behind Raiha Ensor of Mount Maunganui.

Ensor’s heat score was 13.9, against Vette’s 13.47.

Vette also finished second at the national championships in Taranaki in January.

She spent much of the summer competing in Australia, and in this competition she put in a good performance on her backhand.

While Vette did not get the rides to overhaul Ensor, she had enough points to keep reigning champion Ella Williams at bay, in third place. Raglan’s Jessica Santorik was fourth.

In the open men’s division, Raglan’s Billy Stairmand blew away a strong field that included Gisborne’s Maz Quinn.

A four-time winner of the national surfing championships and the first New Zealander to qualify for the World Championship Tour, Quinn is selective about which events he contests now.

He progressed through his quarterfinal heat in second place but was eliminated in the semifinal won by Stairmand.

Both Stairmand and Ensor lead the New Zealand Surf Series rankings after three of seven events this year.

Stairmand looked unstoppable all weekend and his relentless performances continued into the final, where he posted a heat total of 16.44 out of a possible 20 points.

Fellow Raglan surfer Luke Cederman was runner-up. They finished first and second in the 2018 contest, too.

Stairmand held half of the top 10 single-wave scores of the weekend, but he also took a strategic approach to his heats.

“I probably could have got better waves in the final but I was surfing strategically,” he said.

“Everyone surfs a heat differently and I just wanted to stick to my game plan.”

Stairmand now looks ahead to international events in Indonesia and Australia as he hunts down more World Surf League qualification points.

“I really want to try to get on tour with Ric (Christie) and Paige (Hareb) and also aim for the Olympics next year,” he said.

Cederman finished on 13.93 points. He could not match the speed and flow of Stairmand, who is the best part of 25 kilograms lighter than the big goofy-footer. However, Cederman showed glimpses of brilliance and did enough to hold off Daniel Farr (Taranaki), who finished third, and Luke Hughes, who was fourth.

The Rip Curl GromSearch Finals were won by replacement surfer Jack Lee (Whakatane) and local surfer Brie Bennett.

Lee dominated the boys’ final through to the dying stages, when Tom Robinson (Whangarei) caught a wave that fell just short of the required score.

Bennett secured her win on her last wave, a 5.3-point ride that was enough for her to leap-frog Estella Hungerford (Christchurch) for the win.

The Rip Curl Pro was the first of four straight legs of the New Zealand Surf Series with rankings set to change considerably over the next month after the series goes to Dunedin, Christchurch and then back to Raglan early in May. The last event, the Backdoor BayBash is set for mid-November at a location to be confirmed.

A FALL midway through the open women’s final cost Gisborne surfer Saffi Vette her chance of victory in the Rip Curl Pro at Manu Bay, Raglan, on Sunday.

Vette, 17, was pushing for the lead with her progressive approach when she fell off her board.

Her performance was still good enough for second place, less than half a point behind Raiha Ensor of Mount Maunganui.

Ensor’s heat score was 13.9, against Vette’s 13.47.

Vette also finished second at the national championships in Taranaki in January.

She spent much of the summer competing in Australia, and in this competition she put in a good performance on her backhand.

While Vette did not get the rides to overhaul Ensor, she had enough points to keep reigning champion Ella Williams at bay, in third place. Raglan’s Jessica Santorik was fourth.

In the open men’s division, Raglan’s Billy Stairmand blew away a strong field that included Gisborne’s Maz Quinn.

A four-time winner of the national surfing championships and the first New Zealander to qualify for the World Championship Tour, Quinn is selective about which events he contests now.

He progressed through his quarterfinal heat in second place but was eliminated in the semifinal won by Stairmand.

Both Stairmand and Ensor lead the New Zealand Surf Series rankings after three of seven events this year.

Stairmand looked unstoppable all weekend and his relentless performances continued into the final, where he posted a heat total of 16.44 out of a possible 20 points.

Fellow Raglan surfer Luke Cederman was runner-up. They finished first and second in the 2018 contest, too.

Stairmand held half of the top 10 single-wave scores of the weekend, but he also took a strategic approach to his heats.

“I probably could have got better waves in the final but I was surfing strategically,” he said.

“Everyone surfs a heat differently and I just wanted to stick to my game plan.”

Stairmand now looks ahead to international events in Indonesia and Australia as he hunts down more World Surf League qualification points.

“I really want to try to get on tour with Ric (Christie) and Paige (Hareb) and also aim for the Olympics next year,” he said.

Cederman finished on 13.93 points. He could not match the speed and flow of Stairmand, who is the best part of 25 kilograms lighter than the big goofy-footer. However, Cederman showed glimpses of brilliance and did enough to hold off Daniel Farr (Taranaki), who finished third, and Luke Hughes, who was fourth.

The Rip Curl GromSearch Finals were won by replacement surfer Jack Lee (Whakatane) and local surfer Brie Bennett.

Lee dominated the boys’ final through to the dying stages, when Tom Robinson (Whangarei) caught a wave that fell just short of the required score.

Bennett secured her win on her last wave, a 5.3-point ride that was enough for her to leap-frog Estella Hungerford (Christchurch) for the win.

The Rip Curl Pro was the first of four straight legs of the New Zealand Surf Series with rankings set to change considerably over the next month after the series goes to Dunedin, Christchurch and then back to Raglan early in May. The last event, the Backdoor BayBash is set for mid-November at a location to be confirmed.

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